Vanity Fair has released its annual international best-dressed list a few days earlier than the September issue where it appears, and though it is rife with the usual suspects (Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge; Jay-Z; Diane Kruger) what’s really interesting is who is NOT on it.Michelle Obama, for example, who was on it for the last few years. Christine Lagarde, who made it in 2011. And any titan of business or banking other than super-social hedge fund czar Arki Busson, and Matteo Marzotto, who owns Vionnet, a fashion brand. This strike anyone else as implausible? Read more

In all the hoo-ha and excited fashion flagellation that has been generated since Joan Juliet Buck’s incredibly ill-conceived profile of Syrian first lady Asma al-Assad ran in Vogue last year, culminating this week in a mea culpa/excuse of a behind-the-scenes explanation in Newsweek that gave the on-line community yet another reason to castigate fashion (sucker! appears to be the general opinion, not incorrectly), one thing has struck me: why was anyone surprised by this?  Read more

Much hoo-ha in the UK today over the fact that the Queen and First Lady Samantha Cameron seemed to be a little too matchy-matchy, thanks to their startling similar choice of dress shade, at the Number 10 lunch held yesterday for current and past PM’s as part of the Jubilee. Personally, however, I think the one-two message actually works in Britian’s favour. Indeed, it has been a good couple of days for women in the public eye, fashionably-speaking.

The general take appears to be this was a mistake for SamCam, since one is NEVER supposed to in any way steal thunder from the Queen – even though details of HM’s dress is never revealed beforehand, so how, exactly, the minefield is to be avoided is unclear. I guess you could do what Sarah Brown did and wear black. As far as I know, it’s a pretty safe bet the Queen, who believes in the power of the bright, will avoid that shade.

Personally, though, I think the one-two message actually works to Britain’s favour, especially in this pre-Olympic period, even if it happened by accident. The two most public women in the country look like…teammates! They look coordinated. Unified. And all those good sporting adjectives. They are on the same sartorial page.

Besides, if you want to get nit-picky, one is wearing a dress (by Jonathan Saunders, btw) and the other a skirt and jacket (presumably by her in-house dressmakers)

In fact, this has been a pretty good few days for women in the public eye in general: Hilary Clinton also eschewed her recent I-don’t-care-hair scrunchies-and-lank-locks looks for a bouncy blow-dry in Israel, followed by a really elegant twist. It’s a whole new hair stage for the Secretary.

So is there something in the water?

Indeed. It’s called Olympic/pre-election fever, in which those on the public stage are hyper-aware of the fact that they represent a country or a candidate, and must look, at all times, the part. Get ready, get set, let the image race begin.

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The love affair between politics and fashion continues apace. This week the Nelson Mandela Foundation unveiled its clothing line in NY and announced it was coming to New York Fashion Week in September. However, Mr Mandela – or his Foundation – is not the first political entity to realise that fashion can be a useful weapon. Indeed, dare I say it, I think this is a major trend.  Read more

I’ve been trying to stay out of the Ralph Lauren/Made in America Olympic controversy since it started last week, under the reasoning that It Is Ridiculous, but having yet more politicians weigh in yet again – three members of the House, both Democrats and Republicans (OMG! United by this issue) sent a letter earlier this week to the Olympic Committee asking if the paraolympic uniforms could be quickly Made in the USA – has finally convinced me that perhaps something needs to be said. Like: Stop Picking On the Fashion Guys. The only thing really clear in this situatopn is that Ralph Lauren the brand has become a fall guy of a sort. Read more

As far as strange, opaque industries go, modelling is up there with espionage and rocket science: it’s a world built on image, and invested in preserving its mystery. Recently, however, two inmates (intimates?) have started to speak out about the reality, and what’s interesting is they’re not talking about the sex/drugs/eating disorders issues we are used to, but rather employment-law-type infractions: pay inequality, ridiculously long working hours, bad working conditions, and child labour. Read more

Yesterday at L’Wren’s Scott’s resort collection (her first), I saw what is possibly the best ever sartorial uniform for any female politician wanting to re-instate ye olde UK-US special relationship, or up it as it currently stands. It would also be a great look if Michelle Obama was planning to come to the London Olympics. And speaking of Olympians, guess who is the latest famous person to declare their desire to be a fashion designer? Read more

Fashion is about to descend on Rio, but not to shop: to talk. Specifically about “Good Business Models for a Sustainable Future”, which is kind of vague, but which will focus on “clothes, bags, shoes”: how to make money while making them and also make change. For beyond Rio, there’s a growing underground attempting to use what is generally regarded as the most self-centered and value-bereft of industries to actually affect the economic and thus political and personal situation of some of the most challenged global communities. You know, fashion has always appreciated a good dose of irony Read more

For so long, fashion was so good for the Obamas: it clothed them, made Mrs O into a celebrity whose every outfit was lovingly tracked, and won them kudos for promoting new business and helping young entrepreneurs. The way they looked – the labels they wore — positioned the First Couple as global, youthful, daring: a new brand to rebrand the country. And then, this week, it bit them. Read more

Today two different reports were issued on the state of the luxury industry that read together suggest something kind of significant may be about to occur in the relationship of the luxury industry to the countries where it resides.  Read more

I am now going to write something I have never written before; something, in fact, I never would have thought it possible I would write. But here goes: OMG – the shoes!

The shoes worn by Valerie Trierweiler, partner of the new French president François Hollande. To be specific, Trierweiler’s towering Yves Saint Laurent platform shoes; her black suede peep-toe Palais pumps, and her brown leather strappy Tributes, the latter being every fashion editor’s favourite pair of shoes thanks to their ability to give you both extreme height and relative comfort, but not anywhere near the type of shoe normally favoured by a First – what?

So a precedent has been set in Russia. Yesterday the Swiss conglomerate won their case in the Russian Federal Supreme Court, where in they sued a Russian company that had registered the trademark Vacheron Constantin and applied it to middle-market clothes. The result is a new legal standard in Russia regarding trademark protections that will be very useful not only to any other luxury brand doing business in the country but any luxury brand doing business in other emerging markets.

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On Sunday the French electorate goes to the polls for the first round of presidential elections, which are widely expected to result in a François Hollande/Nicolas Sarkozy face-off in round two. Much has been made of this being a quasi-referendum on the future of the euro, France’s relationship with Germany and the rate of taxation on the top 10 per cent of the population (not to mention whether or not France feels it’s time to get a Socialist back in the Elysée). But it seems to me there’s another issue also at stake that hasn’t really been discussed but is equally interesting: the question of what it means to appear presidential in a straitened economic era.

In a week of big American political news, from Rick Santorum’s campaign “suspension” to the furore over a comment from a democratic strategist over Ann Romney’s stay-at-home Mom-dom, one piece of new has, at least on-line, almost trumped them all: the bombshell revelation, in a piece in American Elle, that Hillary Clinton’s staff is secretly horrified at her penchant for hair scrunchies. If anyone wants to debate whether or not appearance matters when it comes to politics, I think the viral reaction to this information, which was buried in a much longer, non-fashion profile, pretty much answers the question.
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Much hair-pulling and hand-wringing has gone on in the last few years over the migration of manufacturing jobs from Western nations to Asia, where costs are lower — exemplified in part in the Obama administration’s current “Made in America” campaign — but a piece today in the FT suggests that, when it comes to luxury and Europe at least, the equation may be about to reverse.

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And so, enter George Osborne with the 2012 UK budget in its little red box (at least symbolically). It strikes me that this photo op has to be one of the weirder moments in UK political imagineering.

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Should first ladies dress for themselves or their country or their
husband’s agenda? This is what I thought last night when Michelle Obama and Samantha Cameron made their much-anticipated appearence at the White House’s “official” dinner for the British Prime Minister.

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There is a tendency, among political leaders, especially of the UK-US variety, to engage in sartorial covert diplomacy during state visits; for the visitor to effectively mirror the dress of the visitee in order to suggest a discrete sort of understanding of the agenda — at least as far as photo ops go. Yesterday, however, when David Cameron showed up for his current US trip, the changed nature of the relationship seemed to be reflected in his wardrobe. One day in, there’s been zero matchy-matchy.

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During fashion show season, which is any time between January’s men’s wear shows and this weekend, when their women’s wear collection is shown in Milan, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana don’t go out to lunch.